Alfred F. Kelly Jr. isn’t exactly a household name in New York, although he is a former president of American Express. Chances are, however, that New Yorkers (and New Jerseyans) will get to know Mr. Kelly a lot better over the next two years. That’s because he has been named CEO of the region’s Super Bowl Host Committee for Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014.
Mr. Kelly has a daunting assignment. The Super Bowl has never been played in a cold weather site without a domed stadium. But in 2014, the big game will unfold in the open-air New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., in the middle of winter. The possibilities for mayhem are endless. It will be up to Mr. Kelly to plan for every possible snag, from blizzards to traffic jams to electrical failures, and so much more. Not a job for the faint of heart.
Mr. Kelly has the endorsement of Woody Johnson, owner of the Jets, and Jonathan Tisch, whose family co-owns the Giants with the Mara clan. Mr. Tisch, who generally keeps out of the spotlight on football matters, made a point of appearing with Mr. Kelly at the announcement a few days ago.
A Yonkers native, Mr. Kelly grew up a fan of the Green Bay Packers–his father and grandfather attended Fordham University, where legendary Packer coach Vince Lombardi played college ball. His enthusiasm for Green Bay may come in handy as he tackles his new assignment. The Packers, of course, won this year’s Super Bowl in Arlington, Texas, where a rare winter storm wreaked havoc with the weeklong activities that are traditionally part of the Super Bowl extravaganza. Mr. Kelly no doubt was watching, and learning, as Texas officials struggled to deal with unanticipated weather problems.
Nobody quite knows what to expect with the NFL comes to the New York-New Jersey area in 2014. The game usually is played in sunny climes, but when it is moved to northern cities, players and fans always have had a roof over their heads. That won’t be the case in New Jersey. What’s more, the parties, the league’s annual Hall of Fame announcement and the commissioner’s annual state-of-the-league address all will require more attention to detail than ever before.
Mr. Kelly has a huge assignment, but he appears to be well suited to the task. Even if he is a cheesehead.